Aristolochia gigantea (also known as Brazilian Dutchman’s pipe or Giant Pelican flower) taken at the Montreal Botanical Gardens 17 March 2011
Aristolochia gigantea (Brazilian Dutchman’s Pipe, Giant Pelican Flower; syn. Aristolochia sylvicola Standl.) is an ornamental plant native to Brazil and is one of over 500 species belonging to the large plant genus Aristolochia. Collectively known as birthworts, pipevines or Dutchman’s pipes, they are the namesake of the family (Aristolochiaceae). They are widespread and occur in the most diverse climates.
Aristolochia is a genus of evergreen and deciduous woody vines and herbaceous perennials. The smooth stem is erect or somewhat twining. The simple leaves are alternate and cordate, membranous, growing on leaf stalks. There are no stipules.
The flowers grow in the leaf axils. They are inflated and globose at the base, continuing as a long perianth tube, ending in a tongue-shaped, brightly colored lobe. There is no corolla. The calyx is one to three whorled, and three to six toothed. The sepals are united (gamosepalous). There are six to 40 stamens in one whorl. They are united with the style, forming a gynostemium. The ovary is inferior and is four to six locular.
These flowers have a specialized pollination mechanism. The plants are aromatic and their strong scent attracts insects. The inner part of the perianth tube is covered with hairs, acting as a fly-trap. These hairs then wither to release the fly, covered with pollen.
The common names “Dutchman’s Pipe” and “Pipevine” (e.g. Common Pipevine, A. durior) are an allusion to old-fashioned meerschaum pipes at one time common in the Netherlands and Northern Germany. “Birthwort” (e.g. European Birthwort, A. clematitis) refers to these species’ flower shape, resembling a birth canal. Some reference books state that the scientific name Aristolochia was developed from Ancient Greek aristos (???) “best” + locheia (??), “childbirth” or “childbed”. (Source:Wikipedia)
Camera: Canon EOS 5D; Lens: Canon EF-100mm f/2.8 USM Macro; f/5.6 @ 1/180 sec; ISO 400